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With the arrival of summer, many concerts and shows are coming to Boston and the Commonwealth. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) cautions consumers who are looking for tickets online to carefully consider the validity of the seller before giving your money or financial information.

Consumer Affairs researchers compared prices of popular Boston area concert tickets for comparable seats across Ticketmaster, StubHub, AceTicket, and Craigslist. The surveyors searched for tickets being resold on these websites, not initial or first-sale tickets. While searching for tickets to Taylor Swift at Gillette Stadium on July 24, staff found prices on Ticketmaster to be over one hundred dollars lower than on the other websites:

  • Ticketmaster:  Club section tickets cost $145.15 including the $15.65 service fee.
  • StubHub: Club section tickets cost $289.74 including unspecified booking and delivery fees.
  • AceTicket: Club section tickets cost $266.43 including the $17.43 service charge.
  • Craigslist: Club section tickets cost $250 including an undefined mark-up.

Finding out exactly what you’re paying for can be quite challenging on most of these websites. It is important that you determine what the face value of the ticket is so that you can figure out how much you are paying in additional fees or markups. This is especially true when buying from a website like Craigslist where the seller can set any price they want.

Refund terms are another facet of ticket buying that consumers should research. In general, many ticket resellers do not allow you to return the ticket for a refund unless the ticket is invalid. AceTicket offers a 200% refund if the ticket is invalid. It should also be noted that Craigslist itself makes no verification as to the validity of tickets sold on its site and disclaims liability from harm associated with tickets purchased on its site.

Consumers must take extra time and be cautious when searching for tickets at third-party websites. If searching on Craigslist or another classified advertisement site, consumers should try to narrow their search to tickets sold “by owner” to avoid bulk ticket resellers.

TicketMaster has both original face-value tickets and resale tickets available for purchase through their website. Hovering over the “See Resale Only” tab brings up a warning that “Resale prices often exceed face value.” On Stubhub, a disclaimer at checkout tells the consumer that the website is from the “marketplace, which means the tickets… are listed by other fans and may be priced above face value.” These are important disclosures that indicate price may be significantly higher when they are resold.

In Massachusetts, ticket resellers must be licensed through the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.  There are limitations on how much these resellers can charge for secondary market tickets, and there are laws in place to protect the consumer. For additional information on ticket reselling, click here. To check the license of a ticket reseller, click here.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation reminds consumers to consider the following when looking to purchase tickets online:

  • Try to purchase tickets from the venue first—the price may be considerably lower;
  • Know the face value of the ticket to determine the amount of the markup;
  • Research the company you are buying from by checking to see if they have any complaints with the Better Business Bureau or Attorney General’s Office or even on online consumer forums;
  • Use a licensed reseller.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog, on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

 

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